With Maine’s unemployment rate near historic lows, and the state’s economic output climbing back to pre-recession levels, there is a lot to celebrate this Labor Day. But what about the people that the unemployment rate doesn’t count?

People of prime working age have dropped out of the workforce at levels not previously seen by labor economists, especially outside Greater Portland. According to a forthcoming study by the Maine Center for Economic Policy, just under 30 percent of 25-54-year-olds without a college degree in rural Maine have dropped out of the workforce, twice the 15 percent rate in 1997.

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